I want to remember

how the air stuck to my skin in Mumbai


a bright yellow and orange marigold garland gently placed on my neck

the strange tonic of boiled water, ground turmeric and ginger, black salt, lemon juice, and honey

the sound of monkeys running and jumping on the roof at night

the first blessed taste of chai and biryani


my host sisters sang to welcome me

i wore a long magenta kurta and peacock earrings the first day of school

feasted on guavas sliced and sprinkled with salt and red chili powder

heard a cat purr for the first time

took my first dance class

relearned how to cross the street

relearned what a head nod meant

ran to get on buses

became used to the insistent sound of honking

gleefully met the milkman

dutifully bought cream rolls in the morning

spent an hour or two with the kids and teachers after school

had regular lunches at the Durga next door,

and took naps in the evening


i loved the smell of homemade ghee simmering on the stovetop

the metal cups and plates in every home

bun maska dotted with tutti frutti

the enthusiasm with which the kids took selfies

drives through rain-filled streets during the monsoon season

meals eaten sitting on the kitchen floor


When I was angry,

I bought books


When I was lonely,

I went on long walks


And when I was overwhelmed,

I found empty classrooms and danced


Days passed slowly, but weeks passed quickly

And now that I’m home,

These are the things I want to remember